Monthly Archives: March 2010

What Should Be the Focus of Schools?

Why School?Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us

Mike Rose

The New Press (2009)

Hardcover: 192 pages

I don’t tout a book that I’ve never read, just as I don’t give students a writing assignment that I haven’t already written myself, but the National Writing Project book group ning is having an online discussion of this book and the coversations have been quite intriguing. Imagine, adult conversation centered around big questions. It made me feel like a professional again. If you too are yearning for those adult conversations, this is a great group to join.

From the New Press website:

A powerful and timely exploration of this country’s public education goals, and how they are put into practice, by the award-winning author and educator
I ask how to educate a vast population, what to teach and how, who will do it, what the work will mean. We still ask these questions because we haven’t satisfactorily answered them. And the way we answer them says a lot about who we are—and what we want to become.

In the tradition of Jonathan Kozol, this little book is driven by big questions. What does it mean to be educated? What is intelligence? How should we think about intelligence, education, and opportunity in an open society? Why is a commitment to the public sphere central to the way we answer these questions?

Drawing on forty years of teaching and research, from primary school to adult education and workplace training, award-winning author Mike Rose reflects on these and other questions related to public schooling in America. He answers them in beautifully written chapters that are both rich in detail—a first-grader conducting a science experiment, a carpenter solving a problem on the fly, a college student’s encounter with a story by James Joyce—and informed by a deep and powerful understanding of history, the psychology of learning, and the politics of education.

Rose decries the narrow focus of educational policy in our time: the drumbeat of test scores and economic competition. Why School? will be embraced by parents and teachers alike, and readers everywhere will be captivated by Rose’s eloquent call for a bountiful democratic vision of the purpose of schooling.

Mike Rose, a professor in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, is the author of Lives on the Boundary, The Mind at Work, and Possible Lives. Among his many awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Grawemeyer Award in Education, and the Commonwealth Club of California Award for Literary Excellence in Nonfiction. He lives in Santa Monica.

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The advantage of self-choice for reading

A valuable assignment that English teachers assign is free reading, sometimes called SSR (silent sustained reading). The object of the assignment is to choose a book and read for a certain amount of time MINIMUM. Sometimes, students then need to record proof of reading.

What is the purpose of this? Free reading creates stamina. It refines the hidden reading strategies of visualizing when reading, hearing ourselves read and making connections in our mind. It’s not busy work, and it’s not punishment, no matter what your child says.

But what should they be reading? Self-choice empowers students, but as a family, it is sometimes frustrating to see your child reading what you believe is “below their level.”

Reading Ladders Region 4

View more presentations from Teri Lesesne.
I’m sharing a presentation by a professor of library science in Texas. She is writing a book about reading ladders, which basically is about letting students choose their own books, but creating challenges for them by offering other books in the same genre that are a little more complex, and leading them to books “at the next level.”
I’ll review the book when it comes out.
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